Punishment or Rehabilitation?
So yesterday Troy Davis was executed for a crime he may not have committed and it’s got me thinking again about the justice system.
Is it there for punishment or rehabilitation?
There seems to be 2 camps here, one who claims that society would break down if we’re not tough on criminals and give harsh punishments and one that says that we need to rehabilitate criminals and improve society that way.
It seems to me to be quite clear that the death penalty is abhorrent, morally wrong and simply lowers the judicial system to the same level as the criminals who commit serious crimes. How can we suggest with a straight face that the way to deter people from harming others is to threaten to harm them? It’s also quite clear to me that the death penalty doesn’t work as a deterrent any more than extended prison sentences do. What we really need is to provide people who find themselves in prison with the best chance of turning their lives around when they get out. We need to ensure that they are educated and have a chance at employment. We need to ensure that they have viable alternatives to a life of crime.
I’ve heard people complain why should they get free education and special treatment when others have to pay? I think we need to look at the circumstances that lead to people committing crimes in the first place. If you’re born into a deprived area where the norm is to take drugs, drink in excess and use violence as a communication tool then chances are you don’t consider the alternatives. The person born into a middle class family and one born into a deprived area don’t start with equal life chances.
We need to find ways to break the cycle of crime, of violence and of inequality.
We must in this day and age, with all the experience of the past, be able to find solutions that allow us to balance punishment, deterrence and rehabilitation. Then we’ll have a better, safer society.
Until we can achieve that surely we can at least act like humans and rid the world of the death penalty.